Ticketless passenger numbers drop

Prague’s campaign to get people to buy annual coupons has exceeded expectations

The number of people riding Prague’s public transit system without valid tickets has dropped significantly, and annual coupon sales are up.

Since the option was introduced a year ago on Oct. 23, 2017, some 4,539 passengers who traveled without a ticket took the opportunity to reduce the fine by buying an annual travel coupon for Kč 3,650.

The number of “black passengers,” as they are called locally, according to this year’s first figures has dropped significantly. Conversely, interest in annual coupons is steadily increasing.

"Two positive conclusions can be drawn from this positive message: people like annual coupons and it is good for them to travel for Kč 10 [per day]. At the same time, it turned out that cheaper fares and the possibility of reducing the fine motivate people to buy coupons and ride legally,” Deputy Mayor Petr Dolinek (ČSSD) said.

The Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) did not expect the discounted fines to be so successful.

“The reduced penalty exceeded our expectations. We knew that it would be attractive for a part of the passengers to have a fine of only Kč 400 [for not having a ticket] by buying an annual coupon, but no one expected there would be so many,” DPP board chairman and CEO Martin Gillar said.

ROPID director Petr Tomčík agreed. ROPID organizes transport in the greater region, including Prague.

"Four and a half thousand passengers without tickets have been made into annual subscribers to Prague Integrated Transport (PID); that is a huge success. Honestly, the annual coupon costs Kč 3,650, that means you are riding at Kč 10. At such a price, it does not even pay to ride under stress that someone will catch you without a ticket,” Tomčík said.

In the first nine months of 2018, the number of black passengers in Prague was down. Current transport inspection numbers show that during the first three-quarters of the year, inspectors imposed 186,414 fines to passengers without a ticket. In the same period last year, it was 212,119 fines and in 2016 it was 231,442.

“The year-on-year comparison of the first nine months of the year shows that the number of black passengers dropped by 12 percent this year in Prague,” Pavel Kurka, head of the transport control at DPP, said. “The campaign “Nejedeš načerno?” (Not riding black, are you?) helps, as does coupons at Kč 3,650. We see that more and more people are using annual coupons.”

In the last year, nearly 330,000 annual coupons were sold. “The interest in them is constantly growing. People have already learned that this is the best way to get around Prague,” DPP’s Gillar said.

Starting this September, passengers have been able to buy annual coupons for the outlying PID zones outside of Prague. So far, they only existed quarterly, and people have had to buy a subscription ticket four times a year. Annual coupons for outside bands will save time and also a little money for passengers because they are slightly cheaper than four quarterly coupons.

The penalty for riding black is Kč 1,500 in the PID system. If the passenger pays it to the fine on the spot or within 15 days, it is reduced to Kč 800.

For a year now, it has been possible to reduce the fine to Kč 400 by agreeing to buy an annual coupon for Kč 3,650 and with a record of the transport inspection, go five working days to the DPP office at Na Bojišti street on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 am to 5:30 pm, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 am to 3 pm.

The “Nejedeš načerno?” campaign includes stickers on doors public transit vehicles asking people is they have a ticket, and other elements such as trams painted with people’s excuses for not having tickets and a website with similar comments. There is also positive reinforcement, such as giving children small prizes if they and their adult escort have tickets.

The price of an annual transportation coupon in Prague was greatly reduced in 2015 to encourage people to use public transportation more often, following up on an ANO campaign promise in the 2014 elections. The price of an annual pass had been Kč 4,750.

The city in the long run hopes to decrease car traffic by having more people use public transit.

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